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PLENARY Thailand Q Unconventional: Motivational Speakers Q Great Britain


(Thailand) continued from page 25


ton Grand Laguna Beach Resort, and dined on Thai-fusion dishes at the Sala Bua restaurant and at Joe’s Downstairs, a delightful water- side establishment. To explore the variety of accommodations available, we also toured the luxurious, 230-room boutique hotel Indigo Blue and the serene Movenpick Karon Beach Resort, with 159 suites and 175 guest rooms. Suited to smaller meetings, or post-/pre-trip


options, Phuket was a wonderful place to un- wind after the bustle of Bangkok. Activities in- cluded a morning Siam Safari excursion, where we rode elephants and tickled our tongues with traditional spices during a Thai cook- ing demonstration. The afternoon was spent on Racha Island, a 30-minute boat trip away, where we sunbathed and snorkeled in warm, crystal-clear waters. Although hit hard by the 2004 tsunami, the coastal region has been completely rebuilt. Luxurious boutique hotels in pristine condition dotted the beachfront. Fam participants found their experience in


UNCONVENTIONAL


Barbara Ehrenreich and the Peril of Positive Thinking


Motivational speakers, Barbara Ehrenreich writes in Bright- Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, have played a key role in spread- ing the positive-thinking movement. The downside of that, according to Ehrenreich, is national denial, which directly resulted in the nation’s economic crisis. Here’s an excerpt from Bright-Sided, aimed at meetings:


A 26


S ANYONE WHO’S ATTENDED A SPORTS EVENT, A revival meeting, or a rock concert knows, it’s hard to resist the excitement of a crowd. When the mu-


sic’s pounding and others are standing, chanting, or swaying, we are involuntarily drawn in and may briefly experience a sense of exaltation, of being part of “something larger than ourselves.” Motivational speakers — and event planners — understand and exploit this human capacity, often demand- ing that the audience stand and perhaps chant or dance in place. In his book on the motivational-speaking business, Jonathan Black describes one speaker’s audience as “trans- formed employees,” who occasionally “break down in sobs.”


pcma convene May 2011


After the performance, “they clasp [the speaker’s hands] and tell him he’s their savior. They hug him, shaking and cry- ing.” For an anxious salesperson or cubicle dweller, an event like this can be a thrillingly cathartic experience — not some- thing to resent, as an attempt at mind control, but something to expect at any company gathering and even feel entitled to as a temporary release from the ongoing pressure. By the start of the twenty-first century, canned motiva-


tion had ceased to be a sideshow to the main drama of the corporate world and begun to penetrate to the heart of American business. Not only salespeople but other white- collar workers, IT people, engineers, and accountants are now increasingly found to be in need of motivation and its promised results — positive thinking and improved per- formance. Everyone in the corporate world, it seems, is in danger of falling into a nonproductive funk unless continu- ally propped up by fresh doses of motivational adrenaline. And perhaps the most surprising converts to positive thinking are the actual decision makers — the executives and managers. n


www.pcma.org


CAPTIVE AUDIENCE: A session at BITEC


FOR MORE INFORMATION: Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau: www.tceb.or.th; Thailand Convention & Exhibition Bureau, North American Office: Marketing Challenges International, (212) 529-8484, info@mcintl.com


Thailand invaluable. Erdener Kaynak, director and executive vice president of the Hummels- town, Pa.–based International Management Development Association (IMDA), said that he “discovered that Thailand has excellent hotel facilities, great hospitality, and the transporta- tion infrastructure is more than satisfactory — well above that of similar destinations.” Kaynak was so impressed that he said he would like to partner with a Thai university to hold IMDA’s 2013 or 2014 World Business Congress in Bangkok. “Seeing and learning about the potential ben-


efits of bringing a group to Thailand was impor- tant to me,” said Tisa Nava, program manager with Agora Occasions, a South Riding, Va.–based event-planning firm. “The systems that TCEB has in place for handling group arrivals, transfers, departures, and expedites are impressive,” she said. “I think bringing a group over would make attendees feel very special and appreciated, since the Thai people have a warm hospitality, a smiling attitude, and world-class service.” n — Maureen Littlejohn


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